Operation Market Garden!

As I wrote before , we here in the south of Holland celebrate in September the end of the second world war. The North of Holland only on Mai 5.
Holland welcomed the American, British, Polish and Canadian soldiers . Here, where I live, THE day was; September 17.
Eindhoven the first big town the “allies” found after leaving Belgium ,was freed on the 18th of September. But after joy their world collapsed again, as German bombers hit the heart of town and thinking they were free, ….227 people died!!!!

Valkenswaard ;the town square with the church I married in.

It wasn’t that easy to liberate my town. It’s surrounded by forest and the road from Lommel in Belgium was narrow. The Irish Guard with Sherman tanks were the first to arrive here in the South, but were hit by German snipers hidden in the forest.
Several tanks caught fire and young men , when still possible, had to run for their lives. Help was asked and the only help they believed in were the Typhoons. They came and so they arrived, late in the evening at the market square.
As it was dark and they had to travel over another narrow road with forest to the left and right, between Valkenswaard and Eindhoven, they decided to spend the night in their car’s and tanks and some tents at the market place.

Collaborators with the Germans were showed to the people from town.
Both pictures are from the foundation 40/45 keeping documentary on the war in this region.

I visited the American cemetery last week, as because of health reasons, I couldn’t be there on the 17th. On the cemetery are 2 UK, pilots laying beside each other, just in their early 20-ties. Their Dakota was shot down by German fighters near the Belgian/Dutch border a few kilometers from here. I placed a Dutch flag at each of their graves , as they remind me at my son Dennis, who died age 18, in his small plane as well. Luckily he NEVER had to fight in a war.
A bit further is private Johnson only 18 years old, whose grave I attended already as a teenager. He got flowers.

Our former queen princess Beatrix with prince Charles after laying down their wreath.
picture ANP.

Last Saturday I was touched, when a 98 year old parachutist from the UK, jumped again in a duo-para- jump, after 75 years over the Ginkelse Heide near to the town of Ede.
About 50 veterans had traveled with their wheel- chair, stick and family members to attend the day as well as around 100.000 Dutch admirers who wanted to show their respect.
Also our former queen Beatrix was there with the future king of the UK, Charles.
They both placed wreath’s, one with poppies the other one with Dutch flowers.
All the delegations from Canada the USA and and the UK placed wreath’s. The delegate from Poland got the most applause . I wondered why. Did n’t know too much about the Polish allied contribution, till I read about their young heroes defending the Rhine at Arnhem.
They had little plastic boats and used car tubes to reach the other site of the Rhine,….. BUT most SWUM!!!!!! Unbelievable!!!!

US and UK troopers side by side. Picture from Reuters.

8 Planes ,  Hercules, Transall and one Dakota dropped over 1000 para-troopers over the heath, from the UK and USA, but also from the NATO countries. The biggest para-drop after the one from September 1944. Very impressive!!!!

Courtesy Henriette.

The goal that day was to reach Arnhem, but the bridge there after “winning” on so many other bridges ,was one too far. A drama, as now they couldn’t go East into Germany’s RUHR area to end the war quickly.
The Germans caused more trouble in Luxembourg as well, which led to the battle of the bulge. A terrible fight under awful circumstances. The allied progress was held up and the northern part of Holland was only freed on Mai 5 1945. Lot’s of people in the North of Holland died from starvation during that final “hunger” winter.

Also there celebrations.
Courtesy Caroline.

Though Market Garden was seen as a military “failure”, it’s reminded by all Dutch as a great feat eventually leading to our freedom. All American, British, Polish, Canadians and other allies, fought and died for our freedom. Most of them were JUST young!!! With a whole life in front of them. They had that courage of young men and just did what was expected from them or/and even more. HEROES!!!!

My life in Tocumwal was between 1984, [when we visited every winter ] and 2006. From 1996 we lived in Tocumwal and there I got the most exciting and “wild” stories from the war in Europe from Bill Riley. The founder of Sportavia in 1969. He flew Sunderland flying boats as a young man far from home in the UK.
I met “old George” a German guy who worked in Peenemunde in Germany at the V1 (sort of the first cruise missile) and V2 rocket’s!!!

“Our” WW2 hangar was full of history. Bob Brown, who has devoted part of his life to preserve the history of the Tocumwal aerodrome (formerly McIntyre Airfield) has told so many stories to the many many guests who visited the hangar and the airfield. I have written in the past many stories about it.
There are still more as I noticed.
A great article written by Geoff Goodall on part of the history of Tocumwal airfield.
If only few of these aircraft were still sitting in our big hangar

As shared by
Sportavia Tocumwal


A still not fit Ritz.

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